Establishing a daily practice does not have to be a struggle. The most important thing to do is to just start. You don't have to be a marathon meditator right away. There's no right or wrong way to meditate. Just pick an amount of time that you can commit to meditating every day. It is the routine that is going to build your practice. Taking this attitude can help motivate you and provide the inspiration needed to carry your practice forward.
There is no magic number of minutes for how long you should sit. What matters most is setting an amount of time that you can sustain over time. Here are three key elements to building a sustainable practice:
- Start with a manageable amount of time: Rather than diving in head first, begin with a reality check. What is an amount of time you can sit with confidence? Even if it seems small, picking an amount you know is doable sets you up for success. This means you'll be able to meet your goal, instead of giving up halfway through and walking away discouraged. Once you feel comfortable with the length of time you picked, you can slowly add a few more minutes as you go. Pretty soon you'll surprise yourself by what you can do. I suggest you ultimately aim for thirty minutes twice a day to reap the most reward from your practice. Until you feel comfortable with that amount of time each day, do whatever feels comfortable to you. There is no one watching and no one judging you. This is your practice.
- Establish habits around your practice : It's important to aim for having a time and place where you practice every day. But when life happens, it's also important not to be discouraged if you have to shift your practice to another time or place. The important thing is the you practice every day. Personally, I do have a special chair in my bedroom with a little candle I like to burn next to me during my mediations but I have also mediated on airplanes, on the sidelines of my child's soccer games, in a doctors office. That is one of the beauties of meditation; all you need is YOU. Mindfulness does not need a cushion or any special conditions. Noticing that every moment, no matter how mundane, is a chance to be mindful, is a foundational step.
- Bring your practice into your day: After establishing a time and place that works for you, you can also extend your time being mindful by taking it into the world. Mindfulness of the body (paying attention to your bodily sensations and movements) is a good way to allow mindfulness to follow you throughout the day. Pay attention to your feet on the ground, the feeling of your legs, or the position of your limbs to bring some mindful awareness to every day.